BRI Old Building, Bristol


When an infirmary was founded on this site in 1736 it was among the earliest in the country, but the Old Building itself is later in date, having been rebuilt in stages between around 1780 and 1810, when it replaced the earlier hospital buildings on the site.**

The old Royal Infirmary at Bristol was one of the first to be founded in England outside London. Subscriptions began to be made in November 1736 and the present site was acquired shortly afterwards. The first patients were admitted the following year. It was not until 1782 that the decision to provide a new, purpose-built infirmary was taken. Thomas Paty, a local architect, drew up the plans and building proceeded in three phases. The east wing was erected first between 1784 and 1786. The central block was put up in 1788-92 and the west wing added in 1806-10. It was a large and impressive building of three storeys and basement, to which an attic storey was added later. A chapel with a museum underneath was added in 1858, an unusual combination.

In 1911-12 the King Edward VII wing was built to designs by H. Percy Adams and Charles Holden in a stylish, stripped classical style which looks forward to inter-war modernism. This building sits just across the road from the old building or ‘Royal Infirmary’ and ended up taking all services from the aforementioned by 2016 which saw it’s closure. 


I vaguely remember the building when it was live and open, but never set foot inside it. In fact I’ve only been into the main BRI building twice in my life so live hospitals aren’t a too familiar site for myself! Since it closed in 2016 it has laid dormant and empty – a huge derptastic blot on a thriving university hospital area. The site has been subject to squatters and vandals etc since closure, and in light of this has had a VPS ‘gold’ system installed with little Dalek like talking bots dotted around. FUN!

Spent a good few nights attempting this one with many a failed attempt and fruitless evening. Standard on the Bristol derp scene really. After having a bit of a breakthrough a few weeks back we figured we’d get back in and smash it while the going was good. In at dawn and in the nearest spoons by 12 for breakfast.

The building is no epic, let me make that clear from the off. It’s all stripped and if you’re expecting a place with the likes of Bristol General (2012) or Frenchay (2014) then keep on clicking. We did however have no idea what to find in this one, and it was still a good laugh and another ticked off the diminishing list! One half decent feature was the chapel, which has caught many an eye from the street and nearby bus station. Pleasant albeit rather stripped, again! Another being an old subway to the live King Edward VII building across the street – sadly padlocked up but still very much there.

In 2017, the chapel was granted listed status by Historic England and saved from the impending demolition. See link here.

The building itself. however, was not granted listed status as HE argued that after a detailed assessment and examination it had been altered too much to gain listed status. Protesters have persisted to get their views heard that it should be saved from the wrecking ball, meaning currently the decision hasn’t been made as to whether the building will be flattened to make way for (YET MORE) student accommodation from Unite.

As of Sept 2022, the rear parts of the building have been demolished and the new student accommodation is nearly ready. The front sections all remain and the future of them is uncertain.


And on a later visit we managed to find our way into the mortuary:


    1. There are a few dotted around in random places – people have been dicking around and moved half of them! As of the last couple of weeks there are sheets on all of the ground floor windows and some rogue security thugs sat in a van opposite the front entrance, as well as in the rear compound too. Just be weary!

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